Atlanta Hawks: How Onyeka Okongwu can reach Bam Adebayo ceiling

Onyeka Okongwu, Atlanta Hawks (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)
Onyeka Okongwu, Atlanta Hawks (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images) /
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Atlanta Hawks
Atlanta Hawks (Photo by Soobum Im/Getty Images) /

How Atlanta Hawks rookie Onyeka Okongwu can reach Bam Adebayo ceiling: Find patience

Something that stuck out to me from Bam Adebayo’s offensive game this year on top of the incredible two-man work with Duncan Robinson was his increased patience on the offensive end as a ball handler.

Adebayo didn’t have this patience in previous years, and why would he? As a center, rarely are they asked to sit back and wait for a play to develop. Centers usually touch the ball on passes designed to get them an opportunity to score. A few elite centers master the art of the pass.

Not usually tasked with ball-handling responsibilities, it’s not in the foray of the frontcourt, certainly not the center, to possess the wherewithal and timing of when to keep a play moving by making a pass or initiating a dribble.

But in 2020, Adebayo went from an average time per touch of 2.08 seconds to 2.73, and frequently handled the ball while the offense moved around him.

It wasn’t uncommon to see Adebayo take a second after receiving the ball outside of the paint to survey the floor and let the play develop before making another pass.

Sure, quick-twitch runs at the basket and rolls off screens make for high-flying plays for Adebayo, but he was weaponized on both ends in 2020 by way of his versatility.

His playmaking elevated in part because of how the Heat used him, but his patience allowed for the system to run smoothly.

For Okongwu to find that sort of offensive nuance like Adebayo has, it will do him well to have some patience on offense rather than looking to score every time he touches the ball. That will be a two-part journey rested on both Okongwu and the coaching staff.

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